Category Archives: Louisiana Creole

Louisiana Creole Mirliton Recipe

Louisiana Creole Mirliton Recipe

Happy fall, y’all!

Today’s post comes with a family recipe for one of my childhood favorite foods. But, we need to dig into some world history first!

What does Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean have to do with my Louisiana Creole Mirlton recipe? Read on…

Mirliton, [MEL-ee-tawn], [MER-lee-tawn], or [MEEL-ee-tawn] in Louisiana, [MEER-lee-tawn] in French, is a south Louisiana staple. The squash, called chayote [chah·YOH·teh] in Spanish, is native to Mesoamerica. This old world plant has documented roots in Louisiana dated in the mid-1800s. However, evidence suggests it reached the Louisiana colony much earlier. In one theory, the plant came to the port city of New Orleans, while a Spanish colony, via other Spanish colonies in Latin America. Another explanation is that it came with colonizers (including gens de couleur libres) and the people they enslaved that fled to New Orleans from Saint-Domingue and Cuba from 1791 to 1815, during and following the slave rebellion that created the Republic of Haiti in 1804. The evidence supporting this latter theory is the fact that there are two places that use the word “mirliton” for this squash—Louisiana and the former French colony renamed Haiti after the revolution. In English, Anglo-Americans call this squash a “vegetable pear” because of its shape. So was the staple called chayote brought to colonial Louisiana during the Spanish period? If so, did the influx of roughly 15,000 French-speakers from Saint-Domingue and Cuba that arrived in New Orleans influence using the French name for the squash? Or was it brought to Louisiana by Saint-Dominguans?

Food history is so fascinating!

This squash is technically a fruit and grows on a vine in warm climates. I remember mirliton growing in my grandmother’s backyard in New Orleans. The plant grew all over the city before Hurricane Katrina decimated the plant. As part of hurricane recovery, a nonprofit organization dedicated itself to the revival and conservation of the Louisiana mirliton.

Чайот.JPG” by SKas is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0

Below is the recipe passed on to me that I will pass on to my children.

Louisiana Creole Mirliton Recipe

Ingredients and prep:

  • 6-8 medium mirlitons
  • 2 pounds gulf shrimp
  • 1 pound white lump crab meat
  • 1 pound cooked ham, cubed
  • 1 medium bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium onions, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stick butter
  • Louisiana Creole seasoning
    • ½ tsp cayenne
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • ½ tsp dried oregano
    • ½ tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tbsp dried garlic powder
    • ½ tsp black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ tsp onion powder
  • cayenne pepper  to taste
  • Italian bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176 °C).
  2. Boil whole mirlitons in salted water until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from water and set aside to cool.
  3. While the mirlitons cool, sauté onion, celery, and bell pepper in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add ham, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook another 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle shrimp with Louisiana Creole seasoning. Set aside.
  5. Cut cooled mirlitons in half and remove the seeds and pods. Scoop out the mirliton flesh and place into a colander. Lightly squeeze out excess moisture. TIP: If you want to stuff the shells instead of making a casserole, score on the sides before scooping to leave a little flesh on the sides. The skin tears easily.
  6. Add drained mirlitons to Dutch oven. Add cayenne. TIP: If there’s a lot of water, add a tablespoon of breadcrumbs to thicken or cook on medium-low heat, uncovered, until most of the liquid evaporates.
  7. Add seasoned shrimp. Cook about 20 minutes.
  8. Fold in crabmeat and parsley. Put mixture in mirliton shells.
  9. Top with bread crumbs. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bread crumbs turn brown.
  10. Serve with Louisiana French Bread or French baguette.

Bon appétit!

OPTION: Make as a casserole.

King Cake Baby Song by Mike Artell

King Cake Baby Song by Mike Artell

It wouldn’t be Carnival if I didn’t share Mike Artell’s song! HAPPY MARDI GRAS!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CD5frTeq0w

Little Bookworm Bookstore Author Visit

Little Bookworm Bookstore Author Visit

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Passed a good time at the Little Bookworm bookstore with illustrator Vernon Smith dancing, singing, reading THE KING CAKE BABY and of course eating King Cake! 💜💚💛👑🎭🎺🎵🎷🎶

Happy Almost Mardi Gras!

Happy Almost Mardi Gras!

On this day last year I wrote a blog post about the popular song, The 12 days of Christmas.  This is the time of year to actually sing that song. The first day is today, December 26th. The twelfth day is January 6th, Little Christmas, also known as the Twelfth Night, Feast of the Epiphany, Women’s Day, Three Kings’ Day and or Kings’ Day.

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During this time of year of course you’ll hear Merry Christmas, Happy Hanakkah, or Happy Holidays. Thanks to the Dirty Coast store there’s have another greeting you should know…

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While the holiday season ends for most on New Year’s Day, those of us with roots in Louisiana are gearing up for another season -Mardi Gras, baby!

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We get this party started on January 6th with King Cake. And we’ll keep buying, baking and eating them all season long. According to tradition, you want to “get the baby” because it will bring you blessings or good luck.

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This year, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is February 13, 2018. That’s 39 days of celebration. Can’t wait to get this party started!

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Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse

Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse

I was so pleased to receive an advanced copy of Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse to review for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.  What a fun retelling of Aesop’s fable, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, told Louisiana style![spacer height=”10px”]

Written by:  Todd-Michael St. Pierre

Illustrated byLee Brandt Randall

PublisherPelican Publishing (February 10, 2017)

Suitable for ages5-8

Themes/TopicsLouisiana, Creole and Cajun culture, animal folk tale, city vs. country living

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Brief SynopsisThis is a story about two mice, Chicory from the city of New Orleans and Roux from the countryside of Southwest Louisiana. One day, Chicory fell asleep in a picnic basket and ended up in the countryside where she met Roux. They explored Roux’s hometown. Chicory found Roux’s food boring, and yikes…there were alligators in the swamp!  Chicory invited Roux to explore the city of New Orleans. Although they did pass a good time during Mardi Gras, Roux prefers the way the tradition is celebrated back home. The city may have fancy food but there were dangers Roux was not used to! Chicory and Roux parted ways but promised to keep in touch. They agreed that where they live is exactly where they’re meant to be.

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Opening pages:

“Once upon a Louisiana time, there lived a Creole mouse named Chicory. One morning she climbed into a picnic basket to nibble on some French bread, and she feel fast asleep. A nice New Orleans family had packed the basket with their favorite foods, such as roast-beef po’boys, Creole tomatoes, and pecan pralines. As Chicory napped, she was carried away to a picnic on a humid day!

When she awoke, Chicory discovered that the basket was smackdab in the middle of a swamp!”

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 Why I like this book Author Todd-St. Pierre cleverly adapted Aesop’s fable, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, to create Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse. He highlighted city vs. country life through the lens of Louisiana culture.

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When people find out I’m from New Orleans, often they ask, “What’s the difference between a Louisiana Creole and Louisiana Cajun?” And I always reply that the difference is similar to any region’s city vs. country living. Simply, where you choose to live influences how you live. As a city girl I attended undergraduate school in Lafayette, Louisiana located in the southwestern corner of the state. I had a wonderful experience, but I’m a New Orleans girl and identify with Chicory, the Creole Mouse! Yet I have friends and family who are like Roux, the Cajun Mouse, who would never leave the countryside. Truthfully, whether folks live in the city or the country we all celebrate the same wonderfully unique Louisiana culture.

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There are two original songs at the end of the book, “Song of Roux: The Cajun Mouse and Song of Chicory: The Creole Mouse.

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Resources

To read more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

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Happy reading!